More than 1 million Washington state residents enrolled in health insurance plans during the open enrollment period that began October 1 and ran through March 31st, Washington state officials said Wednesday.
The staff at the exchange, wahealthplanfinder.org, worked with thousands of customers over the past few weeks to help individuals finalize their applications after the March 31 deadline, many of whom were unable to complete their applications due to technical reasons or experienced other barriers to enrollment, officials said.
The Exchange continues to work with a small percentage of customers to finalize any remaining applications, officials said.
NAMPA, Idaho - When Idaho’s largest hospital system bought the state’s largest doctor practice in 2012, the groups expressed hope that the deal would spark a revolution in delivering better-quality care.
Instead, it ignited a costly legal battle with state and federal regulators and rival hospital systems.
Officials at Boise-based St. Luke’s Health System thought they had the Obama administration on their side because the federal health law encourages hospitals to collaborate with doctors to improve quality and lower costs.
David Pate is president and CEO of St. Luke’s Health System. St. Luke’s is one of dozens of hospitals nationwide to form Medicare accountable care organizations, agreeing to coordinate care with the prospect of qualifying for government bonuses if they hit cost and quality targets (Photo by Phil Galewitz/KHN)
But the Federal Trade Commission filed suit, arguing that St. Luke’s purchase of the 43-physician Saltzer Medical Group in Nampa was anticompetitive and would lead to higher prices for Idaho patients.
A federal judge agreed in January, and his order to dissolve the merger has put this picturesque Boise suburb at the center of a national debate over the consolidation of American medicine.
The decision pushed back against the merger mania gripping the health care industry, raising questions about whether larger health systems really do rein in spending and improve care, or whether they fuel higher prices in the long run. Continue reading →
At Swedish Medical Center’s Cherry Hill hospital, the “EMERGENCY” sign glows bright in the dusk above the emergency-room entrance. Some 18,000 people sought help here last year.
Right next to the sign, there’s another one on the building: “After-Hours Clinic.” Operated by Country Doctor Community Health Centers, this clinic — like Swedish’s ER — is open evenings and weekends.
This isn’t competition, but a partnership few would have predicted before the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Swedish, a huge, specialty-oriented medical center, has plunked down startup money and a cheap lease to help tiny Country Doctor, whose two clinics were started by idealistic community activists in the late 1960s and early ’70s.Continue reading →
Nurse Tenure, Education Linked to Shorter Hospital Stays – “Acute care hospital units staffed by registered nurses (RNs) who have been with the specific unit for at least 1 year have significantly shorter patient length of stay (LOS) than units staffed by contract RNs or by staff RNs who have been in the unit for shorter periods, according to a study published in the April issue of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.”
Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say health plans should cover birth control – latimes.com – “Among 2,124 adults surveyed in November 2013, 1,452 agreed that “health plans in the United States should be required to include coverage” for “birth control medications,” according to a research letter published online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. An additional 436 respondents (19%) did not agree, 197 (10%) were uncertain and 39 (2%) refused to answer.”
Why Women Doctors Make Half of What Men Do: Medicare’s Doctor Gender Pay Gap | Health – “Female doctors are pulling in only about half as much money as their male counterparts in the Medicare system — the nation’s largest insurer — according to a new study by NerdWallet Health. While Medicare pays both men and women equally for providing the same service, several factors may contribute to women earning much less over the course of a year. This study shows how the gender pay gap is affecting the nation’s more than 800,000 physicians.”
A new study has again found a higher rate of a rare neurological birth defect, anencephaly, in Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties, Washington state health officials said Tuesday.
The study identified seven cases of the birth defect in these three counties in 2013, which translates into a rate of 8.7 per 10,000 births. That rate is similar to the rate seen in 2010-2012 and remains well above the national rate of 2.1 per 10,000 births, health officials said.Continue reading →
Q. Do we have to carry our 24-year-old daughter on our health insurance policy? She is employed and has two degrees. We informed her that we would be dropping her at the end of the year because it’s costing us a fortune, and she told us today that we are required by law to cover her. We do not claim her on our taxes. Continue reading →
Higher Diabetes Risk in US South Asians – “South Asians in the U.S. are much more likely to have type 2 diabetes than are other ethnic groups, and traditional risk factors fail to explain the higher risk, according to a new study.”
False-positive mammograms have limited effect on anxiety | Reuters – “Women whose mammograms suggest possible breast cancer that is eventually ruled out experience slightly increased anxiety, but that doesn’t necessarily affect their overall health, according to a new study. What’s more, the increased anxiety appears to dissipate within a year, write the researchers in JAMA Internal Medicine.”
Patients are more likely to leave frustrated and without the tools they need to take charge of their own health after rushed visits.
By Roni Caryn Rabin
This KHN story was produced in collaboration with
Joan Eisenstodt didn’t have a stopwatch when she went to see an ear-nose-and-throat specialist recently, but she is certain the physician was not in the exam room with her for more than three or four minutes.
“He looked up my nose, said it was inflamed, told me to see the nurse for a prescription and was gone,” said the 66-year-old Washington, D.C., consultant, who was suffering from an acute sinus infection.
When she started protesting the doctor’s choice of medication, “He just cut me off totally,” she said. “I’ve never been in and out from a visit faster.”Continue reading →
House Calls Are Making a Comeback – NYTimes.com – “A relic from the medical past — the house call — is returning to favor as part of some hospitals’ palliative care programs, which are sending teams of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and other workers to patients’ homes after they are discharged. The goal is twofold: to provide better treatment and to cut costs.”
Effective Treatment for Fibromyalgia May Now Be Possible – “Among the many therapies currently available for managing fibromyalgia and supported by high levels of evidence are nonpharmacological modalities including education, exercise, and cognitive behavioral therapy, and pharmacologic agents such as tricyclics, serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and gabapentinoids.”
FDA Wants Stronger Warning Labels for Long-Acting Opioids – ” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is requiring labels of all long-acting opioids to say they should be used strictly for patients in severe pain, a response to surging overdoses and deaths each year from the widely used pain medicines. “
Saliva Fuels a Tiny Medical Device – WSJ.com – “Tiny new medical devices could soon be fueled by, of all things, human spit. Miniature health gadgets have sparked great interest in recent years, but powering them is a perennial challenge. Now researchers at Penn State University and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia have developed a microbial fuel cell that can generate small but usable amounts of power from saliva.”
Wikipedia seen as useful tool to predict flu outbreaks, researchers find – “The tradition of predicting flu and tracking disease outbreaks has tended to fall exclusively on the shoulders of the Centers for Disease Control. Healthcare entrepreneurs have sought to supplement that info by using big data generated from social media channels such as Twitter to make assessments earlier. A new study by a couple of researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital identifies another website which could be used for this task: Wikipedia.”
Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) refers to use of hormones such asnestrogen alone or estrogen with another hormone called progesterone (progestinin its synthetic form) to reduce menopausal symptoms.
When a woman uses MHT (which some people also call hormone replacement therapy or HRT), she takes hormones that her body no longer produces in her ovaries.
Research supported by the NIH has shown that women taking estrogen alone were more likely to have increased risk of stroke and blood clots and were more likely to have heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesteroland diabetes, and to develop obesity.Continue reading →
Diabetes afflicts more than 22 million Americans, or 7 percent of the total population, and the number of people diagnosed every year is skyrocketing.
At a cost of $245 billion in 2012, the disease’s toll on the economy has increased by more than 40 percent since 2007, according to a recent report from the American Diabetes Association.
Mississippi, which ranks second after West Virginia in the percentage of residents affected by the chronic disease, is taking steps to reduce devastating effects on the state economy and the overall health of Mississippians.
Nearly 9 percent of Mississippians were diagnosed in 2012 with diabetes, and the $2.7 billion annual cost of diabetes represents nearly 3 percent of the state’s economy (gross state product).
In January, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, the University of Mississippi Medical Center and three private technology partners announced a plan to help low-income residents manage their diabetes remotely through the use of telemedicine.
The goal is to help them keep the disease in check and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations while remaining as active and productive as possible.
Saliva Fuels a Tiny Medical Device – WSJ.com – “Miniature health gadgets have sparked great interest in recent years, but powering them is a perennial challenge. Now researchers at Penn State University and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia have developed a microbial fuel cell that can generate small but usable amounts of power from saliva.”
Why You Shouldn’t Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is – WSJ.com – “By analyzing genetic material on $1 bills, the NYU researchers identified 3,000 types of bacteria in all—many times more than in previous studies that examined samples under a microscope. Even so, they could identify only about 20% of the non-human DNA they found because so many microorganisms haven’t yet been cataloged in genetic data banks.”